Episode 01 – HOPE
In our first episode we’re discussing different media that inspires HOPE. (And yes, there will be talk of Star Wars.)
We don’t have a complete transcript of our episodes. Instead, I thought I’d reflect on any connections I made through our conversation. While I decided what piece of pop culture to pick that taught me about hope, I had to reflect on what hope meant to me, and how it was different from faith.
Ultimately, here’s how I separated hope and faith. I saw faith as a complete trust that everything was working according to plan. Faith seemed a passive acceptance that we’re on the right path, and it will lead to the best outcome.
I saw “hope” as more active. Hope shared its optimism with Faith, but hope motivated the protagonist into action. If I were to map this onto Star Wars (Episode 4 – A New Hope) that would mean Obi Wan would represent “Faith.” He had trust and faith that his job watching over Luke on Tatooine would ultimately be the correct path. He wasn’t actively seeking out the change he wished to see in the universe. He just believed that it would work out.
Whereas, Princess Leia, I believe represented “Hope.” She had confidence that her actions would lead to change. Her hope motivated her into action. Her hope set into motion the events which eventually took down the Empire.
So where does that leave Luke? Isn’t he supposed to the New Hope? At the beginning of Episode 4, I think we have to put Luke into a different category. I don’t think he has either Hope or Faith. He doesn’t believe he’s ever going to get off this planet. And hanging out with his friends and picking up power converters isn’t doing anything to actively change his situation. I think all Luke is doing is wishing his life were different.
So if Faith is passive, and Hope is active, I think “Wish” is more like a regret. Wishing is just wanting the past to be different. Wishing is wanting to change something that’s unchangeable. It’s wanting to be born a Prince.
Now, I think Luke does move from Wishing to Faith by the end of Episode 4. He turns off his tracking computer. And I think by the end of Episode 5 he moves from faith to Hope when he tells Lando he’ll meet him on Tatooine. Now he’s actively making plans to achieve his goals.
The psychologist Dr. Charles Synder came up with three guides to define hope.
- The ability to set goals
- The ability to see different paths to achieve your goals
- Belief that you have agency to change your life.
At the beginning of Star Wars only Princess Leia has all three of those beliefs.
So as that as my criteria, I picked The Fugitive as my representation of hope. I think the moment that most defined it for me was when Dr. Richard Kimble was standing at the edge of the waterfall, trapped, gun pointed at him with the symbol of the law having just destroyed his faith. “I don’t care.”
Kimble knows he can no longer just believe that other people are going to solve his problems. He has the choice of either jumping off the waterfall, or surrendering. He either can choose Hope or nihilism.
I found it interesting in our conversation about hope that Chris talked about the nihilism in Alan Moore’s graphic novel, The Watchman. The world he creates is nearly completely absent of hope.
Cliff’s pick of the timeless video game, Final Fantasy VII also depicts a bleak world. In the game, (which I unfortunately never took the time to play) the world is run by a megacorporation destroying the planet.
It’s interesting to me that in both The Watchmen and Final Fantasy 7, it’s the reader who is asked to supply the hope. Alan Moore invites the reader to choose hope. Cloud Stryfe the main character in FF7 joins the eco terrorists who believe they can save the world.
Both titles have an external world without hope. In The Fugitive the world is normal, but the internal world of Dr. Kimble is decimated.
Mad max Fury Road would be an example. They are actively working their plan in a post apocalyptic world. I was thinking of other titles like the Road by Cormac McCarthy. (There’s a movie too, but I haven’t seen that yet.). But The Road feels more like Faith. They are just trying to survive. Survival movies don’t always work unless they are working a plan they developed to actively fight against the nihilism.
A final question to consider. Does faith have to be destroyed first before one can choose between nihilism or hope?
So here are some titles you can consider if you want to explore themes of HOPE. Let us know if you think they are better examples of Hope or Faith. And remember, like Star Wars, different characters will have different reactions to the same situation or environment.
- The Terminator (Sarah Conner)
- Alien (Ripley)
- Ready Player One
- The Grapes of Wrath
- I Am Legend
- Shawshank Redemption
- Reservoir Dogs
- Saving Private Ryan
- The Martian
- Avengers: Endgame